|"Against the Odds": Babies Written Off at Birth
A Story of Love, Nutrition and ChiropracTIC!
LORRAINE HALE, HALE HOUSE: "The children had clear withdrawal symptoms. They screamed, they cried in agony."
GREENFIELD: This summer, one of the most important institutions here in New York City celebrated its 30th anniversary. Hale House is an oasis of sorts in Harlem for the children of drug-addicted mothers. To this day babies exposed to everything from alcohol to heroin continue to arrive.
Good morning, Miss Sunshine. Good morning. Good morning says Hale. "These are babies some called lost." "They are thriving."
More than 4,000 of them have come through these doors, and they are still coming: babies born to drug addicts. They come here from social workers, police precincts, jails. Their mothers, on the way to treatment programs or prison, have voluntarily placed them in the hands of Hale House... in the hands of Lorraine Hale.
HALE: In 1969-'70 we saw children who were born to mothers who had abused heroin so that the children had clear withdrawal symptoms: They screamed, they cried in agony. After that, cocaine came into the community, and the children we had coming to live with us were cocaine addicts.
Despite the dire predictions for so- called "crack babies," these children are doing well under a program pioneered by Hale House. Child care workers here are told to flood them with affection and attention. "You can do anything you want" is said to the very youngest child.
From the praise to the hallways lined with toddler- sized mirrors, everything is focused on building self-esteem.
HALE: We want them to know that they can fulfill any dream that they have for themselves, even when they're very young. Yes, you can do it. Try it, let's see what happens.
It's nurturing, both for the body and the soul. The children all eat a diet designed for drug-exposed babies by nutritionist Sylvia Elbaz. "Anything that I can get into them to that will help them digest the food, absorb the food, really packed with nutrients, that's my goal here, definitely." says Sylvia Elbaz. No preservatives, no additives and no white sugar.
"Their livers have been so toxic from the drugs and the alcohol that they absorbed prenatally that I don't want to add more insult to injury. So, for example, here's a peanut butter that was donated, U.S. Department of Agriculture, and it says "peanuts dextrose," which is sugar. Don't want that. Partially hydrogenated vegetable oil -- I don't want partially hydrogenated anything."
Lets feel if your spine's in good alignment today, all right? says Dr. Trina Marx, Chiropractor at Hale House. Dr. Marx says keeping the children's spines properly aligned prevents stress on other areas of the body. The children are under regular chiropractic care.
Marx: Many children come with impaired immune systems and have had stressful beginnings. We've seen children that were below scale in terms of their physical development and mental development suddenly become up to par. But it's a combination effect. It's the chiropractic. It's the hands-on. It's the love. It's the nutrition. It's the environment, a stress-free environment.
It is an environment made by Lorraine Hale, who has her doctorate in early childhood development. She found the first baby 30 years ago.